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Homemade Limoncello

With only 3 ingredients and a bit of patience - you can make your own delicious limoncello at home. Bright and intensely refreshing, limoncello balances sweet, citrus and tart flavours. Best served ice-y cold, this makes a wonderful gift to bring to a dinner party. Let the flavours mingle together for at least 1 week and up to 1 month, the longer you leave it the stronger the flavour is.

Total time to make : 30 minutes

Makes: 1.5 litres


10 lemons*

750ml neutral grain alcohol, or high-proof vodka*

800g caster sugar


  1. Remove the zest from the lemons. You can use a good quality vegetable peeler which only takes the top layer of peel (my favourite is the OXO one), a microplane or a fine zester. You really want to avoid getting any of the bitter white pith, even the smallest amount can make your limoncello bitter.

  2. Put the zest into a large sterilised jar and pour over the alcohol. Cover tightly with a lid and leave at room temperature but out of direct sunlight for at least 1 week, and up to 1 month. You can gently shake and agitate the jar every so often. The longer you store it the stronger and more intensely flavoured it will be.

  3. Most of the flavour is seeped within the first week, but leaving it longer does help extract more of the intense lemon flavour! You will notice that the peels will lose their colour and turn white and the alcohol turns yellow over time. Once you're happy with how long you've left it, you can prepare the simple sugar syrup.

  4. To make the simple sugar syrup, bring 800ml water to a gentle simmer over a medium heat. Once simmering, add in the sugar and use a balloon whisk to stir the sugar in until dissolved (about 2 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

  5. Pour the cooled simple syrup into a large, sterilised container. Using a fine mesh sieve, cheesecloth or coffee filter, pour the lemon peel/alcohol mix through it and in with the simple sugar. The sieve or filter will catch any debris or peel and help create a smooth finish.

  6. Keep in the fridge for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 1 year. I funnel mine into smaller bottles to give as gifts.

  7. Shot by itself as an aperitif or digestif or mix in a cocktail (such as my favourite limoncello spritz). Always serve chilled!

Nutritional Information

(per shot)

69 calories

0g fat, 9g carbs, 0g protein

Good to know

  • Sorrento or Amalfi lemons are traditionally used in authentic Italian Limoncello. They are available worldwide but only seasonally, if you can't get your hands on any then regular lemons work great too (or Meyer ones!)

  • Regardless of what type of lemon you use, organic lemons are best as the peel is the main ingredient we're using and soaking for a long period of time - so we want to avoid non-organic ones which are often covered in a wax or pesticides (even if you scrub them well!)

  • The spirit which you use makes all the difference in making a smooth, clean tasting limoncello and the higher the proof the more flavour it can extract. I used this neutral-grain spirit which is 69.9% ABV. I could only find it online, you could also use "100 proof vodka" (Smirnoff and Absolut have their own versions) which is 50% ABV. Failing that, a good quality regular vodka from the supermarket (about 40% ABV) will still work great.

  • Keep in the fridge for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 1 year.

  • You can amend the limoncello to your own tastes, adding more or less simple sugar syrup. I like mine to sit for 3 or 4 days in the fridge before tasting to allow the flavour to mingle, give it a good shake before serving.

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